Wednesday, April 16, 2008

About the Shulammite Woman

Hey Girls … reading the Bible is anything but boring, huh? I’m so strapped for posting time this week and there is so much I’d like to get into with this reading.

Let’s just start here with the question many of you asked (perhaps while blushing): Why is this in the Bible?! Well, let’s see. The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to His people, as well as instruction for how to live as His people in such a way as to bear His image and please Him. So we can trust that this book of the Bible is meant to do one, or more, of those things.

Many people through out the ages have been uncomfortable with the inclusion of this book in the Bible. It describes flesh and anatomy. It conveys strong sexual passion, on the part of both genders. It paints sex between a husband and wife as pleasurable, and for intimacy as much as for pro-creation. To some these were dangerous ideas best left ignored. To others they were fine ideas but they just seemed out of place in the Bible.

Consider theses questions a moment: Who created anatomy – the body parts, hormones, and the resulting pleasurable sensations the body feels? Did God deem anything He created in the book of Genesis “not good?” If you look, you’ll see the only the thing God deemed not good was that that man did not have a suitable partner, and then God made Adam one called woman.

Do people often struggle with sex … with understanding its intended purpose, or with handling its power, or with being able to enjoy it? Does the church ever have a hard time knowing how to address this very powerful but very personal aspect of people’s lives?

Considering all these questions, I do not think the inclusion of the Song of Solomon in the Bible was illogical or unnecessary. But I recognize it can make people uncomfortable. I have to admit my own hesitancy to put the subject of passionate sex up for discussion on my blog! But I trust you gals will keep the discussion respectable.

Many Jews and Christians have suggested that the Song of Songs (or Song of Solomon) is a metaphor or allegory for God’s love for Israel, or for Christ and His bride, the Church. I certainly think that is possible. But I don’t think we can ignore that the most obvious, most primary interpretation of this book is that its about romantic love between a husband and his wife. And I think we could also venture to say that sexual love between a husband and his wife is not just necessary, but important and beautiful to God.

This book - another one that does not mention God by name - is a series of 15 “love songs” by Solomon’s queen as she remembers the events leading up to her marriage, the events of her wedding night, and their life together. The story is told with recurring flashbacks that can make it hard to track chronologically with the story at times.

Another often confusing aspect of this book is that it employs literary devices such as the “chorus” of friends or women sometimes called ‘the daughters of Jerusalem” that interrupt the story or the flashbacks. Their comments serve to make a point or transition between scenes.


The background is that its the 5th century B.C. and Solomon is King. He owns many vineyards around the region. One is in the north by the foothills of the Lebanon mountains. While visiting this vineyard, he meets the Shulammite woman. She is a simple, country girl. She is also beautiful in his eyes and virtuous. She captures Solomon’s heart. He visits her often there and finally asks her to marry him and come to the palace.

As wonderful as a wedding proposal from the king sounds, she has to give it some thought. She was of a lower station in society than him or than the women that would be appropriate for a king – as evidenced by her having to work in the fields. We see her a bit self-conscious about her darkened skin from working in the sun, and her lack of primping. She would also have to leave her family and her rural homeland for the hustle and bustle of the city. And once there, Solomon would often be busy with the affairs of the kingdom as its leader. Plus, she would have duties and a lot of attention on her as his wife. So she has a lot to consider and wisely does so before committing her life to him. Her heart wins out and she accepts his proposal.

The book opens with her getting ready for the wedding procession that will arrive to escort her to the wedding banquet on her wedding night. She is filled with excited anticipation. She is not afraid of consummating this marriage. Any self-consciousness she feels about her tanned skin or her new position as queen, he is able to melt. Passionate details of that night are described and then the first half of the book comes to a close.

The second half of the book shows the joys and struggles of married life. The honeymoon is over, as they say, and sex is not always as anticipated by her as it once was. She refuses his sexual advances one evening and he get up and leaves. She regrets this as she reflects on how much she cares for him and how grand he is, and goes out looking for him. She must search and eventually finds him and they passionately reunite.

She is living at the palace in the city and she misses the country and the mountains of Lebanon. She longs for the beauty of the countryside and for the carefree days they spent there as two young people romantically attracted to one another – not as the royal couple of Israel with the current burdens of their daily life. She asks him to take her there once again. He obliges and they return there on vacation. At the same vineyard where her heart and sexuality were first awakened by him, they share passionate love again.

Their story outlines the path that many couples' sexual relationship follows - all consuming passion at first, followed by a certain comfortable (if no longer ground-shaking) familiarity, followed by the erosion the demands of life can have. What I love about their story is that they seek after and recapture that earlier passion.

In summary, we see her choose wisely and then make a commitment to this man. We see her leave her self-consciousness behind when she is with him. We see her think about, and talk about, what attracts her to him, and what he does that she enjoys. She nurtures her feelings of fondness for him. We see them forgiving and "kissing and making up." We see them getting away together on vacation to fan former flames. We see them meeting each others needs. Basically, we see them being proactive about sustaining their relationship. We don't see them without challenges and bumps in the road, but we do see them overcoming them - together.

There is so much more I could say but I’ll open up for discussion and see what’s on your mind after reading this story.

Oh, and shout out to the "back row" - glad you gals are with us!

60 comments:

  1. I'm late! I just added my comments on the last posting, then I saw that this one is up. Thanks Rachel for your many good comments!

    Pure intimacy between husband and wife is so not shameful, it is so good! The enemy has so perverted it for so many people, and ruined intimacy for so many husbands and wives. Thank God that He can bring healing to us in those areas that have been defiled. Satan uses lust that destroys, God brings real love that binds us together, and develops over time.

    I have a good husband, but I know that we need to "upkeep" our marriage for it to grow stronger. More communication needed, more sharing of our hearts together (if only I can get him to agree on that!), more love.

    Until next time!
    Connie, Canada

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  2. I think God put this in the Bible to show us what he designed love, sex and marriage to be like. This is what we should use as a model for our marriages.

    How many of us were raised to see sex as dirty and this story shows how beautiful sex is in the context of marriage.

    I can't help but wonder what this world would be like if we all had marriages like Solomon's and the Shulamite woman. If we could love our spouses to that degree through out our marriage there would be no such thing as divorce. I wonder if families would also be less dysfunctional.

    If our children could see mom and dad with this much love for each other it would have a profound affect on them. Just think of what the (positive) ripple affect would be.

    Something I have a hard time understanding is how they could be so passionate about their love for each other and then later Solomon goes on to sin and takes 699 wives and 300 concubines in 1 Kings 11:3.

    I would like to challenge those of us who may not have a marriage like Solomon and the Shulamite woman .

    They say it takes 30 days to form a new habit. What if we were to read the Song of Solomon out loud every day for at least a month and inserted our name along with our spouses name. Better yet if we could do this with our spouses together.

    For example (this is the Message Bible) Solomon 1:2-3 "Bob" Kiss me—full on the mouth! Yes! For your love "Bob" is better than wine, headier than your aromatic oils. The syllables of your name murmur like a meadow brook. No wonder everyone loves to say your name! 1:16 And you, my dear lover "Bob"—you're so handsome! And the bed we share is like a forest glen. 2:3-4 As an apricot tree stands out in the forest, my lover "Bob" stands above the young men in town. All I want is to sit in "Bob's" shade, to taste and savor "Bob's" delicious love. "Bob" took me home with him for a festive meal, but his eyes feasted on me!

    I think you get the idea.

    It would be great if we reported back to let each other know how our marriages have improved since doing this exercise.

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  3. Good Morning Ladies,
    I'm off to work this morning so I won't be around for the discussion until this evening around 8:00 pm. I look forward to your comments and I hope to join in then.

    I want to remind you to visit my blog, Plant Lady's Ponderings to register for the drawing I am doing. I am giving away one of my apple gourd birdhouses. It is described in the post, "Gourd Birdhouse Giveaway." Post your name and say you would like to be entered and I will do so. The winner will be announced on my blog, Plant Lady's Ponderings, on Sunday, April, 18, 2008.

    I can't hardly wait, this is so exciting!

    Happy Discussions!

    Plant Lady

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  4. Just to focus on the one you love in our world is certainly amazing. With cell phones, and HDTV, and a million and one distractions........but, it certainly is worth it!

    Have a great day!
    JoAnn/La

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  5. Well, It's been awhile since I've posted, I need to go back and catch up!

    This reading really was beautiful. It's always been sort of hard for me to understand poetry, etc. But I did enjoy this reading.

    It's so easy to think that sex is dirty, or that what you are doing (with your husband, mind you) is "wrong."

    I've only been married 10 months, but even I can see how the ideas of sex that have been ingrained in our minds affects us on occasion.

    As weird as I would feel at first, I think Jean's idea about reading some of these passages to your spouse (inserting their name) would be a great idea.

    I wish I could be more like the Shulammite woman and that my marriage could be more like the marriage between Solomon and Shula (yes, I just gave the poor woman a name). I think this is a great example of working to keep your marriage going, as everyone should do.

    Later!

    Rica~ Winter Park, FL

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  6. I love this picture of a relationship between two committed adults taking shape.
    As I was listening along to the audio version, my kids kept coming in and out of the room. A couple of times the looks on their faces were priceless. They are 12 and 13, so you can imagine the "shock" of hearing this kind of passionate talk about this couple enjoying each other sexually coming from the Bible!
    Anyway, as an 'old married lady' myself, I can't help but swoon at the poetic words in this book. It charges me to bring back passion to my love life and honor my husband with words he probably hasn't heard since we were dating.

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  7. Yes such a romantic story, but I think alot has to do with communication, sharing, and truly loving one another. It's not easy by no means, and with todays world, and all its going ons makes it even more challenging. But patience again falls into place here. I think that if we can rekindle our relationships as often as possible and add these sweet words to each other, marriages would be more exciting for all. But yes Connie i agree with the last statement you made (if only i can get him to agree)hahaha
    Looking forward to the next great woman of the bible study.

    Rachel, thanks that was really good. I hope you can get caught up with all your going on's too.
    We need to make time for Love!
    God Bless you and may God give you strength in all the things you are so busy with. Blessings to you for this weekend adventure!

    Blessings to you ALL
    Sharon/Florida

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  8. I love this book of the Bible. As a young women who is waiting for God's timing on a husband it brings me so much joy that God has so dearly blessed us with a book that shows his desire for husbands in our lives. It shows me that God so intended us to have that romanitic relationships with our husbands. It is as quoted by Connie, pure intimacy. I can't imagine anything better. Since I am someone who has unfortunately tried many relationships not centered on God, and am suffering the consequences.

    ( I would also like to ask for prayer request in regaurds my health. I have found out some unfortunate news and just to pray that the Lord heals, and gives me strength to tell those I need to. I had a biopsy done recently and am waiting for the results, just praying God uses this time and that I learn to hear is his call and see what He wants for my life at this time.)

    I know now however, what God intended those feelings and desires for. I am learning of His true intamacy and am very excited about the day that God blesses me with a family. I know everything, and every bit of me will be worth it and worth waiting for his timing.

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  9. I totally agree with everyone. For me, I know I used sex as a "weapon" rather than a gift that I should have guarded and kept until my sacrificial man from God was revealed. Seven years ago, I gave birth to a beautiful boy and I don't regret that because I know he is a gift from God and he blessed me to be his mother. I would be lying if I said being single that you don't long for those intimate desires again and I have fallen by the way side and asked God to deliver me from that. However, it is a longing that God has to restore for us single women until like the Shumalite woman... she is encountered by her loving and swept off of her feet. Beautiful read, Rachel. My sister, Ashley Marie, I pray that you receive healing in the name of Jesus..confess it with your mouth that you are healed. Pray over yourself and remember that you have sisters who are interceding for you. Love you all :)

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  10. ladies,
    please lift me up in prayer. I found this reading very uncomfortable. I have been abused and find sex to be a very difficult thing to talk about openly. I truly am cringing as I am reading the Song of Songs. I want so badly to have a different reaction. I want to see it as enjoyable and beautiful. My marriage needs it. I know that my husband deserves it! He is a wonderful man and I want to enjoy the sexual part of our marriage.
    So, once again, please pray that I will be able to get to that place.

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  11. I have never been married, but lived my son's father for 3 years. He used to refer to us as "being married, but not on paper." I used to cringe at that comment, because I knew that I was not in the right situation. I found this reading to be so wonderful. I mean, the courtship, the wedding night, and their ability to overcome their struggles and last. I think that is amazingly beautiful. In my relationship, we found out we were expecting our son and our struggles became overwhelming. It was like over night, our relationship changed and it was like we no longer knew each other. He decided that sticking it out was not for him and left. I am grateful for my son, cause he is amazing. I am also saddened by the fact that my decisions lead to him being in a single parent home. I pray that one day the Lord will bless us with a man that is willing to accept me and my son. I also pray that I will be able to be the woman that is deserved. To experience the intimacy that this couple shared, wow.

    Melissa Louisiana

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  12. Sorry...one more thought....

    I hope that no one feels that I am being ugly about single parent homes. I was raised by a single mother also and by no means look down on it. I also hope that it doesn't sound like I'm waiting on a man to come along, because I'm not. I am focusing on my son and I. I just can't help but hope that one day our little family will be complete.

    LoL - I apologize, but I re-read it and was like, "oh, I better add a few things to that. I don't want to offend anyone or give them false impressions."

    Thank you ladies!

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  13. Hola,
    Espero esten bien - Hope you are all doing well.
    This was difficult to read but very enlightining.
    I have been married for 16 years now and our flame has died down some since our first years. This opens my mind so that I may rekindle intimacy with my husband. He is a very good man and father. I have nothing negative to say about him. This may seem not true but he makes me feel like a queen. Many times I am the one to pull away. I am so exhausted at the end of the day that ... well you know.
    Didn't think the Bible could talk to me about this subject. Goes to show you that He has EVERYTHING under control!!!!
    Ashley Marie - Trust in the Lord! Rest in the Lord!! Let him take your worries so you may have peace. Know that we will be praying for you and that your not alone. God Bless

    Me from Puerto Rico

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  14. This is amazing how GOD works I mean. I have been off line for a few weeks and I'm back today and I have been studing this subject as well. My pastor let us hold a book to read "The Act of Marriage" by Tim and Beverly La Hay, and I haven't read it all yet but It is on the same lines. It says in the forward of the book that it is written for married couples or thoes considering marriage. God is awsome! Thank you for the post it was an on time kind of thing. I agree with the stament (if he agrees) our biggest thing I believe is communication and that is important. I will be praying for you all thanks for your time. Keep your head up God is in control and He knows exactly what He is doing! Love in Christ

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  15. Please go to the April 14, 2008
    comments to read my prayer reqest
    for my alcoholic daugher L. And I
    would so much appreciate many, many
    prayers for God's will for her life. It has been devastating, watching the destruction that has been caused by this disease.

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  16. After reading everyone's comments I now see the "purpose" in this book of the Bible. It has inspired so many women in this study to analyze their intimacy and physical relationship with their husbands. This book never made me uncomfortable and I didn't see it unnecessary but just wanted insight to the purpose and now I see it.

    I've only recently realized this to the full extent but our bodies are not our own. It is an obligation per God's Word to open ourselves in a physical way to our husbands. The Bible speaks that we are not to hold that from our husbands except for when on our cycle (bleeding) or if we both have agreed to obstain for a period of spritual "fasting"...something like that (paraphrasing from memory).

    When Rachel mentioned Shula's excited anticipation for the wedding day...oh, how I remember that. I remember that feeling I had on my wedding day...yes, three years ago today 4/16. I'm really trying not to focus on that since we are now separated and "legally" divorced. However, as with many other women I've found, I'm "standing in the gap" and believing for reconciliation in God's timing. I know it to be His will per His Word. He calls me to be faithful to my vow to Him and He will honor that. When He's done the work He needs in me and my loved one, He will rejoin us in His timing.

    To all those who are struggling in this area for whatever reason, initiate the physical intimacy with your husband. From my knowledge, "typically" men are more of a sexual being than women and maybe some husbands have decided to quit "asking" for it because the answer is always no. I believe woman are more interested in emotional expressions of love and physical love without sex. Whereas, men feel loved by the physical act of sex. Just something to ponder.

    God made each man and woman in such a beautiful and intricate way. We just have to learn which buttons are what and both partners must be willing to sacrifice and push the right buttons for the other person even if that is NOT what we want. There's no greater love than expressing it by doing something we know our partner enjoys even though we don't. I know there were nights my husband would rather just go to sleep than to brush my hair until I fell asleep. His shoulder told us that because it began to be inflamed and hurt after doing every night. There were nights I'd tell him not to but he did it anyway because he cared so much about me being able to fall asleep. How precious.

    Please remember me in your prayers...I just want to get past this day 4/16 kind of like I just wanted Valentine's Day over this year. Whether you pray for my husband or not, pray I have the strength to continue to wait upon the Lord as I stand alone in faith that He will return my prodigal spouse to our covenant and His fabulous glory will shine and testify to the world! (Visit my blog...I'm preachin' to myself there on my last post.)
    In Him,

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  17. I read it, and was really inspired to fan the flames of our marriage. My husband works in construction, and he's away from home during the week....this was a good reminder of how important the intimate part of our relationship is, and that I need to not get too busy, or too tired, or too bogged down in the world to ignore or put off intimacy.

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  18. Such and awesome story, and inspiration to me personally. I was married once and it didn't work out, I didn't really understand what it meant to be married. Now I'm 10 years older and I'm believing that God will allow me the privillage of getting married again. Everytime I read this story, I think Ahhhhhh, I want that!
    Ingyr, Columbus, OH

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  19. that was an interesting reading. i cannot identify with it really, having never had sex or really been in love, but it inspires me to want that level of intimacy in my future marriage.
    i pray that ashley marie would be healed and that all tests would come back negative. please, LORD, give her comfort and peace as she waits. i pray for anonymous who has experienced sexual abuse that she would be healed and be able to begin again intimacy with her husband. i pray also that the other anonymous' alcoholic daughter would be healed and begin the process of no longer consuming alcohol. please, LORD, bless these and all of my sisters in CHRIST. give them the desire and the ability to do your will. in the LORD i pray, amen.

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  20. Thanks Rachel for the wonderful insight into this book. i did clarify the ques i had...one being why he was referring to her as my sister and many more. awesome revelation.

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  21. This reading encourages me to invest wisely in my marriage. It is truly a blessing, even when times are a little rough!

    I heard today on a podcast that we don't truly love our spouse until they do something unlovable through which we react in love anyway. Marriage is hard at times, but it is worth the effort! This is definitely true for those times that I feel "too tired" or "not interested". May I be a wife who is a true helper to my husband.

    My heart and prayers go out to those of you who are struggling...

    Lori

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  22. It's so great to be able to discuss this with Rachel and all of the other women.
    I, too, see this as my relationship with my husband. And as you pointed out Rachel, that relationship is what we make it.

    I was very blessed to have dated my husband for seven years and we've been married 32 years. And yes we've had bumps in the road with raising our children, operating a business and just living every day, and we did remain best friends through all of this.
    One of the reasons for dating for seven years was for him to finish college as we were high school sweethearts. There were many times I wanted to rush and marry and as it said in the reading, not to rush love until it's ready. I think that's so important today. Sometimes we want everything instantly and when marriages do not work, we want out instantly.
    I am thankful for the conventant marriage that we have in Louisiana. I think the counseling not just from the parents but from the pastors to encourage and guide as young people make life time committments.

    I read this scripture three diffent times these past 2 days, it makes me very thankful that I could discuss this openly with my husband and not be embarassed. But that comes with having open conversations daily as a friend, a husband, and as a father.

    As I've said before, my cup is full and my saucer is running over.

    Thanks again, Rachel, and again I'll be praying for you during your busy schedule.

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  23. Breetings to all my sisters in Christ Jesus.

    What a truly amazing reading. I was raised in a family, a church and a time that saw sex as dirty and only necessary to bring children into the world. The Lord blessed me with a wonderful godly husband who has always spoiled me in everything. He was so gentle and loving in our first sexual experiences that I learned to love him in the same way. The Song of Songs reads like my love song.

    We are now married for 42 years and still enjoy that part of our marriage as much as ever. After six children and now eight grandchildren that says a lot. (My two youngest grandchildren are the nine week preemies I asked for prayer for. They are doing beautifully. Thank you all so much.)

    I just want to share with all of you that you are in my prayers. To Ashley Marie prayer for healing and wholeness. To anonymous healing from the scars of abuse and wholeness in your marriage. To anonymous healing for your alcoholic daughter. We trust the Lord for you and xstand in agreement with all of you. To everyone if I could give you a marriage like mine I would. Trust the Lord to provide it. Read that word over and over and believe it. Speak it over yourself. God created us in His own image. That is where the beaty of this Song comes from. Grasp it.

    Janet
    Latrobe, PA

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  24. I have only been married 2 years. We dated for 5 years, also to finish high school and college. My husband is my best friend and we do have a very intimate relationship. I pray that it will never fade. Over the past five years, I have only grown more in love with him. So maybe we have a chance to keep that love strong. The sex part of our marriage never seemed that hard because from the begin of our engagement I kept telling my self that sex is what God intended. He made our bodies a certain way and he wants us to enjoy it for several reasons. I notice that when we don't have sex for a while (because of our busy schedules) we snip at each other alot or seem really frustrated. I think having sex releases some of the stress and it makes me fill very loved. Because no matter how I look he always wants me. I am young and naive but that is just my thoughts.

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  25. Blessings!

    Rachel, thank you for including this book to read, and thank you so much for your insights - you make Bible reading much easier and more enjoyable. I've read it before and agree with 'rica' - it's hard for me to understand poetry too.

    I read all comments and learned from all of you. I got inspired to be better in this area. I pray that God gives us all more love for our husbands.

    My prayers are with Ashley, Anonymous that suffered abuse, with Anonymous' daughter that has alcohol problems, and with SweatPea for . I pray that our LORD heals your hearts, heals your body, comfort you, gives you strength, and increase your faith to believe in his promises for you. In Jesus Christ, Amen.

    Have a Blessed weekend!!

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  26. SweatPea, I pray for you, so that God gives you strength! Blessings to you!!

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  27. My husband and I are the youth leaders at our church. We are separating the young men and young woman and tackling the subject of sexual integrity, using the books, Every Young Man's Battle and Every Young Woman's Battle. Pray for us as we do so. Many teens in our group are at the age of starting to find the opposite sex attractive, hand holding, kissing....looking for love and finding themselves in luv. (Infatuation). It is so important for young people and adults to realize God created sex for our pleasure, WHEN we follow His commands. Rachel, thanks so much for the readings. I truly look forward to your posts everyday. God bless each woman and your families that are joined together in this Bible Study.

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  28. LaTonya/FLApril 16, 2008

    I think it is beautiful how their love is displayed in this book of the bible. So often, we forget the passion and attraction after the routine of working and taking care of kids. I am trying to rekindle the passion with my husband from when we first met and started dating. I believe if we can get back that love and passion we first had for one another, it will raise the flames of the fire that are still flaring, but just a little low. I so love the courtship and affection they have with one another. How awesome and beautiful this was!!!

    I pray for all the posters especially the anonymous who was abused. I was also abused and I also at time have a struggle with sex, but I am so happy that GOD is a healer. He is Jehovah Rapha.

    LaTonya/FL

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  29. Rachel thank you so much for your insight into this book of the Bible, I read it a couple of times in different versions and although it was beautiful I just didn't see how it could affect my life. That is usually when God is waiting to hit you over the head with the baseball bat, I read it again after your comments and my eyes were opened, its like a veil had been stripped away, and I saw very clearly how this wife of 33 years needed to change some things up in her life. Maybe that's why I didn't get it the first time I read it, I didn't want to. Thanks

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  30. I'm single but I from what I can understand is that romantic love is important than just sex. I believe that some young adult in my age (and to some teens) think love is just sex. I don't believe that love is all about sex but love is a intimate feeling toward that special someone. A romantic love that shares joy, peace, gentleness, kindness and self-control.

    It is a interesting book to read.

    Valencia.

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  31. Hello my Sisters,

    You all have some great comments, I also have heard that our bodies are not our own, they belong to God 1st and then our spouse. I really think this is Gods way of explaing how he wants our relationships to be. To totally adore one another as he adores us. What a wonderful world it could be if we all followed Gods wisdom and plans. - But that's why we're learning right?

    For annoymous that was abused...

    First of all I'm sorry. 2nd I understand, I was raped, that is how I lost my virginity. I felt dirty and used and that no one would ever want me. If that wasn't bad enough I was date raped a year and half later. So at this point sex had no special meaning it was just an act, no feeling nothing sacred, that had now been stolen. Then my first husband cheated on me like a kazillion times... ya I had a lot of issues with not letting myself enjoy sex. Ok so that's the ugly stuff. I now know that by the blood of Jesus I have been washed as clean and white as snow. I now have a wonderful husband that has been so patient and loving and has helped me to communicate with him. We have a great marriage and it really has to do with honesty and communication. I pray healing for your mind, spirit and body.
    Ok let a little out of the bag on that one huh, but I want to help if I can.

    Ashley Marie, start looking up those healing scriptures and reading them and confessing them over yourself.

    For the youth leaders... Thanks for helping our youth. It is such a hard confussing time for them. Lisa Bevere did a series called "Kissed the Girls and Made them Cry" It deals with not awakening the passion before it's time. How we need to focus on God and fall in love with Him until it is time for us to unleash our sexual passions. You might want to look into that for future teaching.

    Sweet Pea ... I'm sending you BIG loves and hugs. You're awesome don't grow weary. Love ya!

    Donna, I know you're out there.. so happy Mikes ok. Loves to you too!

    Sharron, Congrats to you and your husband, on being ordained. Great reason to celebrate :)

    Plant Lady... you're such an encouragement always, a ray of sunshine, you bring a smile to my face often.

    If I have forgotten anyone I'm sorry... but loves to you all. Come visit my Blog I haven't posted today but will try to later or tomorrow. I have two once you get there so check them both.

    RACHEL O. -
    Look at what you've done! We are reachin out opening up Sharing the word... it's all your fault, you started it. :) I mean that with the greatest of compliments. Have a blessed weekend if we don't hear from you again. Ready for the next reading when you have time.

    Blessings to all,
    Lynn

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  32. Really enjoying the insights and learning alot.
    Me and my husband are closer now than we have ever been. We were separted about 2 years ago for a couple of months. ( he had some wild seeds to sow.) God brought us back together and we are stronger than ever. He is now going to church with me studing the bible. I praise God for everything he has done. I really think this book was put in bible to show us what marriage and love is supposed to be like.
    Cassandra from Virginia.

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  33. Tommie said...
    Hi ladies,
    I have to agree with Jean that this book in the bible is what God intended marriage to be. I am so thankful that after 34 yrs of marriage, our appearance has changed a bit with a few gray hairs, and a few wrinkles, I still look at my husband as the strikingly handsome man that swept me off my feet one summer day so long ago. I still get goosebumps when he walks into the room. We've had a few bumps along the way but it only made us stronger. Our daughter who is now 24 wrote a report her senior yr in high school and I quote " I want to find a man that love me and looks at me the way my daddy looks at my mom." I hope that someday she finds that kind of love. She also made a choice that resulted in an unexpected blessing that has brought so much joy to our lives.
    Melissa, do not be saddened by the decisions you made, Your exactly where God wants you at the moment and how great that He hand picked you to be your sons mommy. Anonymous- I will pray for you. I recommend a book by Joyce Meyer called Beauty in the ashes. She was abused for years by her father. With God's help you can and will overcome this.
    Anonymous-- I will pray for your daugher to get out of the pit she's in. It is a illness. She is going to have to want to get clean. You and your family will be in my prayers.
    In Him
    Tommie :)

    April 16, 2008

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  34. As a single, never-married woman, I have to admit that I had trouble getting through this one. I believe and love God's Word, but I don't think He'd put a book in the Bible that would exclude an entire group of people. I even tried to look at it as Christ's love for me, but with the sexual connotations, that was difficult. Are there any single women in the Bible we can read about? ;)

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  35. I've read this several times as many of you have shared and I'm glad I did...because I'm finally getting what it is all about! Not just words but actions! For me I dealt with a single mom whom I seen as having sex not being in a marriage and feeling used. I picked up on this and grew up thinking that sex was just something that was dirty but women had to do to be loved.

    I had a wonderful marriage for 15 yrs and the other 5 yrs he turned to alcohol and it eventually ended. He died almost 2 yrs ago.

    I've been so fortunate to meet a wonderful caring man that has been patient with me and we have a relationship that I'd never dreamed of having. We are open and willing to work on our relationship to have the best God has to offer.

    However after reading this book I've gotten a new look on how God has intended it to be and I'm looking forward to applying this to my life daily.

    Thanks to all who have shared your stories it helps us all grow stronger.

    JT - Southern IL

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  36. I have never read this book before so it was an eye opener for me. I know that this is the type of relationship God wants for us married couples and for the ones that are not married yet, this is the type of relationship He wants for you and your future groom to have. How amazing is that?

    I was feeling convicted last month about always saying no or making excuses because I am always so tired by the end of the day with 2 kiddos.( 15 month and 4 yr old). I knew it wasn't right and not fair to my husband so I started to pray and ask God to change my way of thinking and to make me "want" that part of my marriage again. Ladies, He answers prayers. I really have to work on it and I still pray that he continues to help me make that special time for my husband and share what He intended for us to share.

    All of the requests are being lifted up. Stay strong in the Lord!

    Blessings ~ Christi in TX

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  37. Ladies, I so enjoy reading about you and praying for you as I read. I look forward to the times I can get online and "catch up" on the latest news and prayer requests. Rachel, it amazes me how your insight really opens up the Word. I never would have understood that passage without your interpretation.

    I agree that the physical relationship is so very important to the health of a marriage. I have been married almost 19 years now and my husband and I are on an uphill cycle after some bumpy times. He is a wonderful husband, father and provider and I am very fortunate to have him in my life. We are about to enter a new phase of life as our daughter will graduate next month and head off to college soon. Fortunately, we have an 8th grade son who will be going to high school next year. It's difficult to have one 'leave the nest' - so I would appreciate prayers as well!

    Blessings to you all!

    Sally from Texas

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  38. Hi all. I periodically listen to Marriage Today with Jimmy & Karen on the INSP channel...at least I listen if they happen to be on tv while I'm getting ready. So, today they were talking about sex in a marriage. Karen mentioned how she knew it was wrong for her to withhold sex from Jimmy. Jimmy talked about how it was wrong to approach Karen with a self-serving attitude. Karen expressed how when he did that, it made her desire it less but when he came with a servant attitude it made her feel wanted for herself and not just the gratification of the physical act. Jimmy said that when both partners go into the physical act with the attitude of servant and with the motivation to serve and please the other person then both come out fulfill.

    I only wish I had learned this and listened to this couple during my marriage. I was so oblivious to the sin of saying "no" to my husband and denying him because of no desire, tired, no time, whatever. I remember when I first heard of this new perspective last year and I really believe if I had gone into it with a desire to solely please him, then in return I too would be pleased even though I was tired, exhausted or whatever.
    Their website is marriagetoday.org.

    I strongly encourage married couples to visit this site.

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  39. Hi Ladies...

    I'll have to say that I am encouraged by the intimacy described in this reading. I know it has helped to heat things up around my house!

    That aside, I too, have read that this is a parable of Christ's love for Israel and the church. Someone mentioned how awkward that is with all the sexual connotation but I see it as totally, unashamed passion! God is more passionate about us than we can even imagine. He is, to quote my study Bible, "the true Lover of our souls". So... reading this passage as a wife, it helps me to understand the intensity of Christ's love for me. At first it was hard for me to separate the sexual aspects as I don't view my love for Christ that way- but the pictures painted through this "poetry" really helps me to accept that Christ's love for me is even more fulfilling than the intimacy I share with my husband. Does this make sense?

    "Ising4him"... I appreciate your point of view. I don't think this Book excludes single people but rather is meant to stir each of our emotions (whether single or married) to a new height as we try to grasp the Love of God. For me, there are certain passages that I can relate to more now than perhaps I did in the past. Likewise, I'm sure there are other passages that I will better relate to at some other season of my life.

    To all with prayer requests... You are lifted up... It is an honor to join so many sisters in prayer for all of you. May God Bless you with the desires of your heart.

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  40. This Bible study has been so awesome to me. When I read the chapters assigned God has helped me read with understanding and given me a desire to read more of His word. Rachel your comments always helps me to understand what I don't see. I believe this study
    shows us God's love for Israel or Christ's love for His Church. God made man and woman from his rib as a helpmate. After the fall in to sin God told the woman she would have to bring children in to the world. In my opinion God also gave us a guide, in the Song of Songs, to pure love and sexual relationship between a husband and wife. How I wish I had learned that almost 46 years ago. I have a wonderful husband who has been very kind and considerate and helped me to become the wife I was supposed to be. Not that it was always perfect, nor that we did not
    have our problems, but he always looked out for my pleasure as well as his. To God be the glory.

    To all of you who have prayer requests don't give up God's not through with you yet. And with all these women praying, wow, the Throne of God is being bombarded. All of your prayers I believe will be answered.

    I have started a blog and am still in the early stages of figuring out how it works. Please feel free to visit and if you have any suggestions I would appreciate them and your prayers that God will show me what I'm to do with this.

    I still cannot figure out how to sign in using my Blogger account.
    My website is litlal.blogspot.com
    Alicee.

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  41. Hi ladies! I'm posting very late but I wanted to be sure to do so anyway. This bible study has been so good for me. I look forward to reading everyone's comments and prayer requests.
    This has given me a great opportunity to learn more of God's word and it really helps to have different view points. This was a really great love story. The details and vivid descriptions are so beautiful. I'm glad that God created sex as a gift of love for us to share with our husbands.
    I just want to say "Thank you!" to all of you that prayed for me and that I enjoy praying for all of you that have prayer requests.
    Rachel, I pray that you will be greatly blessed for all that you do! I certainly feel blessed to be a part of this group of wonderful ladies learning God's word.

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  42. This Bible study has been such a blessing to me in so many ways. It is bringing me closer to God, my husband and my children. It is releasing me from past hurts and wounds. It is increasing my faith. I find that I need this every day now and I look forward to being filled up with the Word of God.
    Blessings to you all.

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  43. Thanks Rachel for your insights on this bible reading. I have read this book before but never understood all of it. You gave me a new understanding. Thank you. I am blessed to have a great husband and now that we are almost empty-nesters we are finding we each other again after all the busy-ness of raising children. I am so happy we still have a passion for each other after all these years.

    I just wanted to let everyone who has shared their pain on this blog I am praying for you.

    Deb - Ohio

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  44. I read the entire book but for some reason vs.4 in Chapter 1 just stood out to me:

    "The king has brought me into his chambers."

    My mind thought about the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, Creator of the Universe, calls me into His chamber! He makes His love known to me and draws me close to Himself.

    The physical love that we have with our husband is beautiful but the Holy, Holy, Spiritual and Pure Love that we have with the one who said, "Come boldly to the throne of grace" far excells the physical realm.

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  45. Boy am I late!! My computer has been down for 4 days..I haven't been able to put anything on my blog..I know Sweatpea has been wondering if I'm alright too!! Well the enemy has been working on me and after this I am going to post a blog that has a lot to do with this posting..its amazing how the Lord gave me something to write about in conjunction with Song of Songs!!

    I am amazed at what others are writing about..how they like it or not thrilled about it. Some don't understand it and others aren't sure why it's even in the Bible. Well first our Lord is our Beloved Bridegroom and we, the church, are represented as the Shulammite bride in this book of the Bible. There is actually so much to talk about but I chose to speak about this part. Our Father, our beloved has a passionate love for you. It's so intense that He gave up everything and left His heavenly home to walk and live among the sin of the world. He willingly suffered and poured out his blood for you and I on the cross. Think about it..if you were the one and only person on the earth for Jesus died for...He would do it all over again.. Praise God!!

    Christs experience on the cross was the ultimate example of selflessness and the epitome of passion. Did you know that the word "passion" means to "endure and to suffer". The word itself has an overwhelming intensity of feeling, emotion, and affection. Jesus' passion was motivated by His deep devotion and obedience to the Father. They are one, aren't they? The Father's heart are His.

    So now He desires an intimate relationship with His children, you and I. In order to become intimate, we have to trust. So many of us say, "It's hard to trust, I have been abandoned, my husband doesn't love me, or he abuses me" I've been there, I've been abused horribly and have been abandoned also by man. Think about it..Jesus was also abandoned and abused..on the cross, for you and I! Even though he was abandoned, abused, forgotten, and all the other things that happened..He would never leave you nor forsake you. Open your heart and let Him in on your most secret thoughts and failures. I wrote, on my blog, 2 postings ago, about going to the Father's feet and just sitting there to crave His love for you..you are accepted in the Beloved not matter what you have been through. He has plans for you to do good and not harm...he wants to prosper you in every way for the rest of your days..Jer 29:11

    Jesus never had a thought or word that was out of the Father's will..that is His desire for us! Our Beloved is calling you to spend more time with Him..not just in Bible Study but in a more personal loving way..like it was written in Song of Songs. Is there so much oneness with you and Him that you can feel His heartbeat with yours? You know the scripture that says you can hear His voice in a small whisper..are you still enough to hear that?

    Let us have that sweet fellowship with Him and chose to become close to Him...He will cleanse you as if you were in a stream..

    Jesus, our Beloved, takes delight in us...everytime he looks into your eyes it makes His heart beat a little bit faster. So Ladies if you look at this book as a love story from Jesus to us it makes it so much better..I love Jesus...Jesus loves me...
    Donna

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  46. Fivedesigns (Donna),

    Welcome back! Glad to hear you are OK. We've missed you and your comments that mean so much.

    I imagine you have a lot of catching up to do. I don't remember if I told you to stop by my blog, Plant Lady's Ponderings and register for a drawing I'm doing - one of my apple gourd birdhouses to be announced on Sunday, May 18, 2008. It is described on the post, Apple Gourd Birdhouse.

    Just post and let me know if you want to enter. I'll announce the winner and we can arrange for shipment at that time.

    Everyone is invited to enter, so spread the word.

    Blessings To You,
    Plant Lady

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  47. Even though it's late I am going to post I got behind with Esther but was able to get this reading in tonight. I have read all your comments and ask you to ponder this- I am single so what this story and your comments have meant to me is if we can't have intimacy with husbands, how can we have intimacy with God. This story also teaches God desires intimacy with us. remember the scripture how can you love God whom you have never seen but not your brother whom you have seen- paraphrased from memory. change the words How can I have intimacy with God whom I have never seen and not my husband who I do see.

    Father God I lift up Ashley Marie to You for healing. You are a healer and we know and are trusting You for a negative report, for by your stripes we are healed. Father at Your Feet we place anonymous, L, Sweetpea. Tate, Sally asking that You will bless them according to Your Holy word. In Jesus Name we Pray.

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  48. God doesn't promise this kind of erotic, intimate, earthly love to everyone. He blesses many marriages with it, but it is not something everyone enjoys. However, God does promise to love his people with the same depth of love described here. We are his treasured one, his beloved and he delights in us just as these lovers delight in each other.

    I am currently reading a book called " A Wife After God's Own Heart" by Elizabeth George. I thought it was interesting that the chapter I read today was entitled Enjoying Intimacy.

    For those that need a change of heart and attitude in their sex life she gave a list of 7 things titled "Little Things That Make a Big Difference".

    1. Take you calendar in hand and schedule sex!
    2. Talk about sex with your husband.
    3. Take time to prepare for sex.
    4. Try to go to bed at the same time as your husband.
    5. Tackle the excuse of "I'm too tired!"
    6. Take care of yourself.
    7. Take a short trip together

    A marriage counselor was asked to create their Top-Five List of "most basic needs," time and time again husbands expressed that "#1" was "sexual fulfillment." And when wives were asked for the same information, sex did not appear at all on the Top-Five List!

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  49. Has anyone given any thought to the awesome and magnificent power that God shows in everything He does. We live in a world where just about anything goes nowadays and alot of people are more concerned about keeping up with the Joneses, such as having the best car, the best house, the best brand name anything. They rush around trying to fill themselves up with "stuff." In the end, they still aren't fulfilled because that emptiness they're feeling cannot be filled up with material things, only God can fill that void.

    Now I want to say that I tried doing that very same thing for alot of years and I can truthfully say that when I would make a purchase and bring it home, I still felt like something was missing. It took alot of unpleasant things taking place in my life over about a seven year period for me to finally take a assessment of my life and figure out that what I was doing and thinking was definitely not what God wanted for my life. It is not easy admitting that you have messed up, made some lousy choices and now here come those consequences.

    I beat up on myself for a long time and even though I asked God to forgive me for many bad choices I made, I wasn't forgiving myself.

    You might ask, what does this have to do with the Shulammite Woman? I read about her beautiful relationship between her and her husband and thought...wow, this is what God wants not only for my lfe, but for everyone. If we as a people would just hold on and ask God for wisdom and guidance in All we do, alot of the choices we make would have not been made. Again I would like to say...."we should pray first and get God's plan, not plan first and then pray for God to make our plan work."

    He wants us to fall in love, perhaps get married. But most of all He wants sexual intimacy to be only for married couples and that's where alot of us have and will go wrong. What some think is love may be only lust. Satan is busy and sex without marriage is Satan's work. See how he takes something God has created for good and twists and distorts it. He is so slick and wicked.

    I want what the Shulammite Woman has and I will have it when I keep my focus on Jesus and consult Him in all I do, but before I do it.

    See what we have to look forward to? Of course they're some who are experiencing a beautiful relationship with their husbands or their boyfriends. I pray that we as a people get it together and instead of focusing on stuff, focus more on Jesus. He loves us and only wants the best for us. I thank God for Him because if I had to go through life without Him, I would be lost, forever lost.

    Girls, I pray that all of us find the love that God has planned for us and accept no substitutes. Be blessed! Jo Ann/Denver

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  50. Hello Ladies, I'm late in posting, many things going on in my life at this time. My husbands test have been rescheduled until next week 22 & 23 due to his being very ill with another UTI he is on IV antibiotics now, please remember him in prayer.

    Now to the Shulamite Woman...My husband and I enjoyed a wonderful sex life together very fulfilling, very intimate and sweet...then 11 yrs ago he had a major stroke and brain surgery that left him totally paralyzed on his left side and mentally he is as a 5-8 year old, I still love him deeply and miss what we had. I believe this book is in the Bible to teach about intimacy in marriage...but...I also believe it shows Christ love for His bride the Church, (us).He is our bridegroom and He wants intimacy with each one of us, try inserting His name in this text, it isn't a sexual love you will feel but a very intimate love with your Saviour. Jesus is the head over all and our husbands are second under Him, I've learned to let Jesus be my husband over these past 11 yrs. He truly blesses my socks off, when I go to His word with an open heart and mind seeking intimacy with Him, He fulfills that need every time. The entire Bible is a love letter written to each one of us as believers, Jesus is choosing His church and we are sooooooooo blessed to be a part of it.

    Matthew Henry's Bible Commentary explains this passage so well, I highly recommend reading it for further study helps.

    Psalm 91:1 "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High will abide under the shadow of the Almighty", I believe God's secret place is His heart and when this passage in Song of Solomon talks of "him lying all night between my breasts", where is our heart? Think of holding Christ in your heart and longing to drink in all of the love He has for you. No one could ever love you like Jesus.

    As I go down this list of prayer request I lift each one of you to the Lord.

    God Bless, Josie

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  51. Thanks, Rachel, for your insight and explanations, and for all of you who have certainly added more! I’ve read this book a number of times, but like so much else in the Bible, when I reread a passage again and pray over what I’m seeing, I find something new and applicable in my life. This time I was struck by how the Shulammite woman’s beauty was not inhibited by her dark skin. Her lover pursued and received her as she was—“dark, but beautiful,” and from a very different and lower state than his kingly position. Even in the harem situation she later probably found herself in, she was not forgotten and at her request, her husband rekindled the spirit of their initial passion. It’s a lovely story, full of love, passion, and pursuit, but in appropriate ways. We can thank the Lord it’s available in God’s Word!
    I was also touched by her intense pursuit to find her husband when he came and she missed him. It even led to her being beaten and abused by the nightwatchmen! Although we don’t learn more about how she recuperated from that experience, she did go on to find her love… so we can assume that healing did come. May those of our group suffering realize, too, that the Lord is near and will bring healing to each in His way. Thanks for your open sharing and requests for continued prayer. You are included!

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  52. Have been sitting on the sideline enjoying the comments and trying to keep track of the prayer requests. It is a thrill to see comments from so many far places..........this book has always made me uncomfortable at times even tho knowing it's likening it to Christ's love for us as believers............Blessings & Joy! Clare

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  53. When we first started this study I was having trouble posting. Now I am able to, and it is such a joy to read what everyone else has to say.
    Lynn, thank you for the resources for youth. We are taking 18 teenagers tonight to a pure freedom retreat (it's hosted by Bob and Dannah Grecsh, and it's focus is teaching the teens to have lives of integrity and remain pure in all areas of their lives, focusing on sexual integrity). Please pray that God will move in a mighty way in the lives of these teenagers. Pray for the adults going that they would be comfortable in talking and would develop a mentor relationship with these teens.
    Becky, you're not young and naive. It sounds like you have found the man God has intended for you. As a young person in college I was so in love with my now husband. People thought we were young, naive, unrealistic. I'm glad to prove them wrong, as we just celebrated our 11 year anniversary and are still ever so much in love and the "D" word isn't even in our vocabulary.

    I also agree with the woman (sorry, I forget who it was) who said about her and her husband being snippy with one another if too much time has gone psat without having sex. My husband and I are exactly the same way. We don't even realize what we are doing, and then a light bulb will go off, and we realize we need intimate time. (Kind of hard with a 4 year old, 7 year old, leading a youth group, having jobs etc...but it is every so necessary in order to have the relationship God wants for us.)

    Sorry to blab on and on, but I guess that is what this is for. Thanks for reading! Love and prayers to all who are participating in this study.

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  54. I think I have read most if not all the comments and I was especially touched by the comments that Josie made.

    Thank you for your beautiful insight and being an example to your husband to what true love is all about! And the beauty of a greater love with Jesus!

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  55. I agree with the last anonymous.

    My praises to Josie for being a true vessel of God's love and I commend you for that. You will indeed be blessed with many crowns in Heaven.

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  56. These passages have always made me sad...tears even now. I always WANTED this passion but my husband has so little interest. I've spent years wondering what's wrong with me that he doesn't adore me. In earlier days we were ok, but life just went awry, I guess. I have held in here, raised the 2 kids and am still here. But no, we don't share love in our later years and we tread lightly to get along. Much fault was mine and mostly I got frustrated in his lack of leadership, unfinished projects, laziness...that I kept to myself and lost the love.

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  57. I'm not sure anyone will even read this because I don't know if I should post here regarding this or post on the newest blog, but here it goes anyway....At the retreat I was at this weekend, we learned about certain places in the Bible where the term "to lay with" or "to know" is it's Hebrew translation is "yada" which means to know, to be known. We also saw about verses that use the word "sakab" which in hebrew means the exchange of bodily fluids. This is a term God uses for sex that is not in His image. The verses we read today discuss the "Yada" kind which means that God wants to know us, to have us know him. Reading the Hebrew translation can add so much depth to a Bible study. Dannah Gresh was the speaker at the retreat, and she was totally great.

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  58. this is just a reminder of why i've given my body back to the Lord after 38 years. I'm so excited to share this w/my future husband & watch God's hand take over our life together.

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  59. This book of scripture makes me so incredibly sad...it is so beautiful and it is how God designed men and women to be together. When you have sex outside of a covenant marriage it is so messed up and it messes up the people involved so badly.

    I lost my virginity when I was a teenager--thought it was no big deal. My mother who raised me on her own was not a Christian, in fact she was the complete opposite--so I was not raised to put any real value on my maidenhood. I married--I divorced--I married--I divorced--I married--I divorced--I was so looking for love in all the wrong places--just like every other young girl who does not have a good relationship with her father--but that's a whole 'nother subject!

    My husband and I got married because we were living together I knew we could not keep praying for the Lord to bless us (after I came to know Him 12 years ago) when we were living in sin. Not because my husband had some undying love for me. We did not have sex on our wedding night and have only had it about 3 times those first 2 years of marriage. We have not had anything even remotely similar to sex in 10 years and what's equally sad is the fact that when did have sex after we were married it was so, so wonderful--way better than it was before we were married!

    My love language (for those of you who have read Gary Smalley's, Five Love Languages) is physical touch. So, to me I feel like Tom Hanks looked in Castaway!!!

    So, this book just breaks my heart because I know that this is what God would want for our marriage just as much as He wanted it for the Shulammite Woman and Soloman.

    Becky, you were right when you said that when you and your husband have gone too long without having sex you start snipping at each other--it seems to be to oil that allows two people to get along smoothly. Little things don't matter so much. My husband and I are like two porcupines every little thing sets us off. I read this book and I remember what it is supposed to be and it breaks my heart. Believe me 10 years is a long time--it's another one of those things in my life that needs the miraculous hand of God.

    I tried to teach my daughter to value herself and to save herself for her husband--so she would truly know what it is to be loved and cared for--just like the Shulammite Woman. But, she didn't believe it was true and she gave her most prized possession away and now she's going to be a teen mom. This breaks my heart so terribly I can't hardly bear it.....

    Gwendolyn

    I do know that ultimately the relationship I have with Jesus is the most important and I know He loves me like no one else ever can or will.

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